Prevalence and co-occurrence of cognitive impairment in children and young people up to 12-months post infection with SARS-CoV-2 (Omicron variant)

for the CLoCk Consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Cognitive impairment is often reported after SARS-CoV-2 infection, yet evidence gaps remain. We aimed to (i) report the prevalence and characteristics of children and young people (CYP) reporting “brain fog” (i.e., cognitive impairment) 12-months post PCR-proven SARS-CoV-2 infection and determine whether differences by infection status exist and (ii) explore the prevalence of CYP experiencing cognitive impairment over a 12-month period post-infection and investigate the relationship between cognitive impairment and poor mental health and well-being, mental fatigue and sleep problems. Methods: The Omicron CLoCk sub-study, set up in January 2022, collected data on first-time PCR-test-positive and PCR-proven reinfected CYP at time of testing and at 3-, 6- and 12-months post-testing. We describe the prevalence of cognitive impairment at 12-months, indicating when it was first reported. We characterise CYP experiencing cognitive impairment and use chi-squared tests to determine whether cognitive impairment prevalence varied by infection status. We explore the relationship between cognitive impairment and poor mental health and well-being, mental fatigue and trouble sleeping using validated scales. We examine associations at 3-, 6- and 12-months post-testing by infection status using Mann-Whitney U and chi-square tests. Results: At 12-months post-testing, 7.0 % (24/345) of first-positives and 7.5 % (27/360) of reinfected CYP experienced cognitive impairment with no difference between infection-status groups (p = 0.78). The majority of these CYP experienced cognitive impairment for the first time at either time of testing or 3-months post-test (no difference between the infection-status groups; p = 0.60). 70.8 % of first-positives experiencing cognitive impairment at 12-months, were 15-to-17-years-old as were 33.3 % of reinfected CYP experiencing cognitive impairment (p < 0.01). Consistently at all time points post-testing, CYP experiencing cognitive impairment were more likely to score higher on all Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire subscales, higher on the Chalder Fatigue sub-scale for mental fatigue, lower on the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and report more trouble sleeping. Conclusions: CYP have a fluctuating experience of cognitive impairment by 12-months post SARS-CoV-2-infection. Cognitive impairment is consistently correlated with poorer sleep, behavioural and emotional functioning over a 12-month period. Clinicians should be aware of cognitive impairment post-infection and its co-occurring nature with poorer sleep, behavioural and mental health symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-994
Number of pages6
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Volume119
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • Brain fog
  • Children
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Omicron
  • Post Covid-19 condition
  • Prospective
  • Young people
  • long Covid

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